Sports Shorts

Rugby earning recognition as South sport

By Mike Berman
Published: May 2010

One would think that rugby is a sport unique to foreign countries, especially in high school. This spring, however, South has embraced the game, as it continues its fight to be recognized as an official Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association sport.

A sport both distinctive in style of play and in its application at South, rugby is finally making its way into the conversation alongside the more mainstream South sports.

“This game is special because it is a world wide sport. Australia, Ireland, Canada, Argentina, and now the U.S [all play it], it is a global sport that includes everyone and all body types: strong, weak, fast and slow, sophomore and Girls’ captain Paris Caldwell said. “Plus the game is different from every other sport, it’s nice to try something new.

The 2010 campaign served as the sport’s inaugural season at South, and, according to Coach Matt Condon, the teams are just “getting [their] feet wet with the sport.

Like that of the Track and Ski teams, the Boys’ and Girls’ Rugby teams practice as a unit, but compete individually. Unlike the track and ski, however, rugby is a sport that requires contact.

The co-ed practices generate some healthy competition among the members of the two genders, making for an intense, but productive, atmosphere.

“Practicing with mixed gender, in [my] opinion, pushes the girls a bit more to show that yeah, we can do just as good, and sometimes even better, [than the boys], Paris Caldwell, a captain of the Girls’ squad, said.

Although the teams practice together, they do compete individually. In this sense, the boys and girls are their own entities, just like any single-gender sport at South.

“It doesn’t feel any different [than any other South sport]. The guys do their thing while we do ours, sophomore and Girls’ captain Aley Lewis said. “It doesn’t matter that they’re sometimes better at drills than us, it only matters that we are getting practice in and love what we do.

Rugby, arguably one of the most physically demanding sports in the world, requires rigorous practices. “Practices are pretty intense. We start off with a run then we do some passing drills and go over some plays but it is a little tough because we don’t have the numbers to fill the field, junior and Boys’ captain Pat Geary said. “After we go over the plays we do a bunch of hitting drills.

Aside from mouth guards, rugby players do not wear any protection in a sport more dangerous than football. Therefore, only the toughest athletes can withstand the physical onslaught of a game.

Preparation starts with conditioning, as it is one of the most important parts of the game. “Unlike football, the play never stops, so there is no time to rest. Once you sub out, you are out for the game, so you need to be in great physical condition to be able to stay in for as long as possible, Geary said.

The demand, rigorousness, and overall physicality of rugby have been the catalyst of a close-knit group. “Not only is this the first rugby team ever at South, we are [also] all one big family and love each other, Lewis said. “We take all our anger out on the field, but off [the field], we make friends with our opponents. That’s just the way rugby is and I love it.

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